Lutz couple has a 'whale' of a tale to tell - WRBL

Lutz couple has a 'whale' of a tale to tell

Posted: Updated:
LUTZ, FL (WFLA) -

Rich Howard has loved the ocean since he was a little kid. He became a certified scuba diver at age 13, and started taking underwater photographs in his 20's.

"Ever since I was 5 or 6 years old and got my first book from Jacques Cousteau, I've just loved the ocean ever since," he said.

It's a love he shares with his wife, Laura. So the couple decided to take a scuba diving trip to  La Paz, Mexico to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.

One dive took them to see a colony of sea lions. The Howards said they'd been diving and playing with the friendly animals for about 25 minutes, when the dive master told them the trip was over and they needed to get back on their boat.

Both Laura and Rich were a little frustrated their dive had been cut short. But that feeling quickly changed when they saw 4-5 foot dorsal fins breaking the surface of the water and heading straight towards them.

"I didn't think killer whales. I thought, oh, it's going to be a humpback, it's going to be a sperm whale, something that we'll see from a distance," Laura Howard said.

But it was a pod of 20 killer whales. The massive mammals started following the fast moving boat, jumping, flipping and playing in the boat's wake.

"It was amazing to see them because they were 6-8 inches off the back of the boat. Every time they'd come up for a breath of air, they'd spray you," said Rich.

This time it was Laura's turn to be the photographer. She had recently purchased a flip camera with a water-proof case. You can hear her cheering the whales on while she recorded about an hour of video.

"They were spinning, jumping," she said. "One of them really stuck with us the longest and would flip on their side and literally look up at me."

The couple said they're glad their dive got cut short, because the whales gave them a memory that will last a lifetime.

"It's really something that reminds me of this wonderful experience that we were so blessed and lucky to have happen to us," Laura said.

The Howards said they were told this is a very unusual experience. The pod of whales has been spotted by locals several times in the last decade, but no one remembers them playing in the wake of a boat.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Removal of tons of stinky rice near Port of Tampa begins

    Removal of tons of stinky rice near Port of Tampa begins

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:06 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:06:23 GMT
    The nasty stench near the Port of Tampa may get better soon. Dump trucks worked to remove some of the 1,000 tons of rotting rice on the private land Wednesday. 8 On Your Side discovered the shipment of bad rice, rotting under tarps on property owned by Tampa Marine Terminals on Tuesday.
    The nasty stench near the Port of Tampa may get better soon. Dump trucks worked to remove some of the 1,000 tons of rotting rice on the private land Wednesday. 8 On Your Side discovered the shipment of bad rice, rotting under tarps on property owned by Tampa Marine Terminals on Tuesday.
  • SAFETY ALERT: Saltwater bacteria kills 1 in Sarasota

    SAFETY ALERT: Saltwater bacteria kills 1 in Sarasota

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:50 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:50:00 GMT
    WFLA file photo.WFLA file photo.
    A death in Sarasota County has health officials reminding people about a bacteria in Florida's coastal waters that has the potential to cause serious illness, even death. Other counties in Tampa Bay have reported cases of Vibrio vulnificus.
    A death in Sarasota County has health officials reminding people about a bacteria in Florida's coastal waters that has the potential to cause serious illness, even death. Other counties in Tampa Bay have reported cases of Vibrio vulnificus.
  • An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:53 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:53:07 GMT
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Pool parasite invades Pinellas County

    Pool parasite invades Pinellas County

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:19:12 GMT
    Health officials say the parasite that causes 'Crypto' could be in your pool. Health officials say the parasite that causes 'Crypto' could be in your pool.
    Health Department officials in Pinellas County are putting out a warning about a parasite that can lurk in swimming pools and water parks.

    Health Department officials in Pinellas County are putting out a warning about a parasite that can lurk in swimming pools and water parks. And, if it invades your body, you're in for a rough ride - it's called Cryptosporidium.


  • Lakeland gymnastics coach accused of sex with minor

    Lakeland gymnastics coach accused of sex with minor

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:56:59 GMT
    A man who works as a gymnastics coach in Lakeland has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
    A man who works as a gymnastics coach in Lakeland has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
  • Bay area man headed to prison following sexual assault conviction

    Bay area man headed to prison following sexual assault conviction

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:16 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:16:02 GMT
    Hulsey, 22, was serve at least 25 years of his prison sentence. Hulsey, 22, was serve at least 25 years of his prison sentence.
    A 22-year-old Bay area man was sentenced to more than 36 years behind bars Wednesday for his role in the 2012 sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl.Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Newton handed down the sentence for Zachary Thomas Hulsey.
    A 22-year-old Bay area man was sentenced to more than 36 years behind bars Wednesday for his role in the 2012 sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl.Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Newton handed down the sentence for Zachary Thomas Hulsey.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:14:31 GMT
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
  • 8 ways to save on groceries without coupons

    8 ways to save on groceries without coupons

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:07 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:07:49 GMT
    Wikimedia Commons photo by Eja2kWikimedia Commons photo by Eja2k
    ShopSmart magazine sent undercover shoppers through grocery store aisles and discovered plenty of ways to lower your grocery bill.
    ShopSmart magazine sent undercover shoppers through grocery store aisles and discovered plenty of ways to lower your grocery bill.
  • Couple's selfie photobombed by lightning bolt

    Couple's selfie photobombed by lightning bolt

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:56 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:56:28 GMT
    A couple vacationing in Mexico was almost hit by lightning, a few sources including Washington Post reported Tuesday.
    A couple vacationing in Mexico was almost hit by lightning, a few sources including Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.